Scientists Identify Potential Cause of 40% of Pre-Term Births
[Source: Medical News Today]
Scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and UCL (University College London) have identified what they believe could be a cause of pre-term premature rupture of the fetal membrane (PPROM), which accounts for 40 percent of pre-term births, and is the main reason for infant death world-wide.
The researchers, whose work was funded by the charity Wellbeing of Women, used bioengineering techniques to test the effect of repetitive stretch on tissues of the amniotic membrane which surrounds and protects the baby prior to birth.
They found that stretching of the amniotic membrane leads to the overproduction of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) which is damaging to both the cells, and mechanical structure, of the tissue. This overproduction activates the stretch-sensitive protein connexin 43 (Cx43) and reduces the mechanical properties of the membrane, potentially leading to rupture and pre-term birth.
The research, published by the journal Placenta, is the first study to investigate the role of Cx43 in causing PPROM.
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